I woke up Saturday morning 10/2/2021 after a very cold night that dipped down to 32. I laid in bed a bit before starting up a fire and making some coffee to warm up. Feeling of isolations had started creeping into my head  the prior evening. I had such a great time seeing friends in Madison and Chicago the prior week, but that sense of friendship and socializing was starting to fade as I reached a week of traveling solo. I shook these feelings off, but they were still there in the back of my head.

I finished up yesterdays blog post and posted it to my site, for some reason the Facebook post was giving me issues. I wanted to get all of this uploaded before the Badger game at 9am as I am tethering off my phone and only have so much bandwidth at my campsite. 

I found a stream for the Badger game. It was pretty neat sitting around a campfire watching a Badger game at 9am. I would usually prefer not watching a game at 9am, but since I wanted to get some more hiking into today the timing was perfect. Unfortunately, the Badgers suck this year and when Wolf threw an interception at the beginning of the 4rd quarter and the game was out of reach, I ventured out for some hiking.

I started the day unsure of where to go hiking, I looked at my phone app to review my bookmarks and options and saw 3 trails that intrigued me nearby. I decided to go to the Romana Falls Trail. The trail was rated highly, ranked as a moderate hike and featured a waterfall. Let’s do it!

The trail was about a 35 minute drive away. The first part of the drive was on a local highway, then a county road and the last few miles were on a … road. This road started out as 2 lanes without a center line then 1 lane with some dirt shoulders, then 1 lane with no shoulders, then 1 lane with some pretty big potholes. I was a bit confused and wondered where the road out was since I didn’t have cell service and wanted to remember some landmarks to find my way back. I found my answer quickly as a saw a car coming at me slowly and realized this was a true 1 lane road. One of us managed to maneuver onto some rocky grass to let the other pass but this was real dicey. On top of the that, there were large potholes and chunks of the road missing that caused you to go 5-10 miles an hour the last quarter mile. 

I arrived at the parking lot and started to get my backpack, hiking pole and layers in order and a young woman parked next to me. I mentioned to her how … interesting the drive up was. She replied that she had driven it many times, how she had the potholes memorized and how much she loves this trail and it is worth the rustic road. I questioned her about the trail as I had a few questions after reading reviews about crossing the river and the loop divide part way thru.

She was very friendly, I told her I was not from the area and on a sabbatical. She started talking about the trail and naming off places in the area I need to see. We seemed to have some sort of connection and I asked her if I we could keep talking about places I should visit and join her at the start of the hike. I am normally hesitant asking a younger woman that question as I know as a man I am not able to understand how vulnerable they must feel in these situations.   

I forget her exact words, but she was amenable to the idea. We started the hike and kept our conversation going. She started asking me about what I did, where I went to school, music tastes, etc. Later in our walk she told me these were some probing questions to get an idea of what type of person I was. When I mentioned I never finished college and ended up following the Grateful Dead in my early 20’s she told me that put her at ease and was the answer the let her put her guard down as she knows some older Dead Heads and it clicked what I type of person I was. 

We continued our hike and had some great conversations talking about our lives. I told her about the house fire and how it changed my life for the better. She talked about her travels over the last few years, her experience living in Portland, her friends, and her job as an educator.

Sadie was only 25 but came across as an older spirit and more experienced at life for her age than you would expect for a woman that young.  I’m not going to go into details of our conversations, but we seemed to build a real connection and I really enjoyed our conversations. It’s funny, I had been feeling isolated the last 24 hours and this was exactly what I needed. I am not sure how many hikes I had done this trip, but this was the first hike I did with a companion. I had met many people on other hikes and chatted, but those conversations usually only lasted either at a stop or between waypoints.

We climbed the trail briskly uphill and arrived at the Ramona Falls. Ok, I know I saw 8 waterfalls 3 days ago but this one takes the cake. This was a beautiful waterfall. I really enjoyed taking in the waterfall and we both took some pictures. Sadie even managed to capture a picture of me with a rainbow behind me that really captured the moment. 

We hiked back downhill at a brisk pace and bonded and chatted more. This young woman had some great insights to life and we had a lot in common philosophically and politically. I am glad I met this friend.

We arrived our cars and she asked me for a hug. I was feeling the same way and had the same urge as we said our goodbyes, but hesitant to ask as I did not want her to feel uncomfortable. We hugged it out and both smiled and exchanged numbers to keep in touch and for me to have a resource to ask for suggestions about the area. 

I was happy I was able to find a friend to take this hike with and I lost any feelings of isolation I had earlier. I took the treacherous ride out and decided to stop at the Mt Hood Brewery which was 8 minutes from my campsite on the way back. They some had some good beers, but… they had the most ingenious idea since sliced bread and something I had never seen before. 

I sat down at my stool and ordered a flight of their beer and saw this white icy pathway along the bar in front of me. Are you kidding me, they have a pathway along the bar in front of me that is chilled to put your beer on!! I kid you not, check out the pictures! How the hell has no one ever thought of this before? You put your beer down and it stays chilled. I had ordered a flight so I was not able to take advantage of this groundbreaking idea at first, but put my water on this. Some Madison tap houses need to adopt this ASAP

After my flight I had to order another beer to use this genius chilling lane and saw some clam chowder on their menu I had to try. I was not that hungry, so a bowl of soup seemed perfect for dinner tonight, especially in a bread bowl. I eventually left the brewery and returned to my campsite to make a fire an write up this post.

I finished up the evening burning the rest of my firewood and contemplating my next move. This campground closes for the season tomorrow at noon. I was had thought of driving down the scenic Columbia River highway and stopping at Multnomah Falls to do some hiking but had been indecisive about the specifics. 

Sadia had mentioned how much there was to see along the Columbia River and some other sights that rival the heavily traffic areas like Multnomah Falls and mentioned the city of Hood River. This seems like a sign to me, and I think I am going to find a hotel in Hood River tomorrow. I may do some hiking on the way there first, but we shall see what tomorrow brings.

I had a great day and my only regret is not taking a photo of Sadie and I together so I can remember her more vividly and the time we had spent. And oh ya, before I forget we had to cross this log bridge over the river on the way to our path. You can find a picture of it in the photos.

TLDR: Met a new friend and hiked to Ramona Falls. Great Day.

Full Photo Albums – https://photos.app.goo.gl/TaA63RYxDPWNX5sB8

Highlights

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2 Comments

  1. I’m the mother of the young woman in your blog, and nothing could make me happier than to read how thoughtful you were and are about making a solo female feel safe on these far-flung trails. Our daughter is an explorer – always has been – and they relayed this encounter with you to us. Of course, I’m leery about these tales and being in WI doesn’t help. Thank you for your care and generosity. Be safe out there!

    1. Sorry for the late reply, but when i got back to WI I forgot to check on comments. As you read from my post I cant express how much I liked meeting Sadie and how her companionship was one of the highlights of my trip

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